One day, we'll all tell our children (and/or grandchildren) about why the 24-hour reality television channel is called MTV. We'll say something like "Sonny, there was once a time, when I was just a wee child, when that station played music videos."
"A music video on television? That's preposterous, grandpa/grandma. I thought those only ever existed on YouTube," our grandchildren will telepathically communicate to us via computer chips implanted in our brains.
We'll recall fondly how through the very beginning of the 21st century (or the "double-O's," as we'll hopefully call them), music videos actually mattered. We'll explain that relatively mediocre performers like R. Kelly and Lady Gaga could become huge stars thanks to elaborate music videos (and peeing on people).
See also: 10 Best Fat Rappers of All Time
We might even tell them about how some music videos were far superior to the songs they represented. Here are 10 songs that we might mention when explaining that part.
10. "All the Small Things" - Blink-182 Blink-182 always had a knack for making memorable music videos. Whether they're streaking through Los Angeles ("What's My Age Again?"), wearing awesomely short shorts ("First Date"), or throwing cash off of rooftops ("The Rock Show"), Blink did better pop-punk videos than any of their competitors. Their flawless boy band parody video should go down as one of the funniest videos ever created, even if it's for (arguably) their most overrated song.
9. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga Let's be honest, "Bad Romance" isn't one of Gaga's worst songs, but it's definitely one of her best videos. We're not sure exactly who was on what drugs when this video was created, but there were clearly some mind-altering substances at work. This was really the video that took Gaga from "that one pop star who dresses really strange" to "what the hell is going on here?" In hindsight, it also might've been the moment that guaranteed she wouldn't be able to keep up that level of successful and bizarre art for more than a couple of records.
8. "Work It" - Missy Elliott Don't get it twisted, "Work It" is a great song, and Missy is borderline legendary. It just so happens that the video is one of the creepiest, most hypnotizing and stunning visuals of all time. Since the video released, female artists have been trying (and failing) to top its combination of art, attitude, dancing, and creepy weirdness.
7. "Here It Goes Again" - OK Go There's a good chance that no one even remembers the words to this song beyond the chorus, but everyone remembers when this video went viral. OK Go realized they could separate themselves from the dozens of bands that sounded exactly like them by dancing and jumping from treadmill to treadmill, and they did a damn good job of it. Long after their music is forgotten (it already has been, for the most part), people will still recall that one crazy treadmill video that was everywhere for a few weeks.
6. "Twisted Transistor" - Korn By the time Korn put out See You on the Other Side in 2005, there wasn't a whole lot of demand for the nu-metal band. They had their hardcore group of fans that would see them regardless, and "Freak on a Leash" would always be on countdowns of the top hard rock songs, but they weren't breaking into everyday mainstream culture again anytime soon. Then they got Lil Jon, Xzibit, David Banner, and Snoop Dogg to do the video for their lead single (each as a member of the band), and it was absolutely amazing.
5. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" - Beyonce Kanye was right, Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. "Single Ladies" probably isn't even in the top 10 best Beyonce songs, but the video was legendary. For that matter, let's not forget the priceless SNL parody that went with it.
4. "Without Me" - Eminem Yes, Eminem was Eminem before the video for "Without Me" was playing on the television sets of teenagers everywhere, but it was his ridiculous antics in this video that took him to the next level of superstardom. He'd already had success with The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, but he needed another huge hit to cement himself as a hip-hop legend. While the lead single from The Eminem Show might've just been another one of his humorously angry tracks without the video, the visual depiction of the rapper running around as a superhero while acting out nearly every lyric in the song made this one of the most entertaining videos to ever grace TV screens.
3. "An Honest Mistake" - The Bravery The Bravery will never be remembered as a great rock band, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't think they put out a great rock video for their biggest hit. There's something extremely artistic and mesmerizing about watching the band's giant complicated contraption play out, even if you already know how it's going to end. It's the way every kid envisions the board game Mouse Trap ending up, even though you always lost one of the pieces before you could finish the game.
2. "Telephone" - Lady Gaga At first, we were opposed to putting Lady Gaga on the list twice. In reality, she could probably have her own list. Gaga was the master of putting out mediocre songs with super memorable videos, and her mini-movie with Beyonce is the pinnacle of that. Even the most diehard Gaga fans (if they still exist) will admit that "Telephone" isn't her finest work, and sane people generally thought it was a poorly written repetitive pop song. On the flip side, the Thelma and Louise-esque video is better than most shows on network television.
1. "Trapped in the Closet" - R. Kelly Has anyone ever listened to any part of "Trapped in the Closet" without the music video? We hope not. As completely ludicrous and unnecessary as (all 33 chapters of) this song is, just the fact that R. Kelly had the audacity to make a hip-hop soap opera based around a one-night stand is really impressive. Even if you can't stand R. Kelly, it's totally worth clearing out an afternoon to watch the entire thing, and then you can watch the Chappelle's Show skits to feel better about yourself.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.